Crime, Law and Social Change

, Volume 62, Issue 2, pp 155–170 | Cite as

Incorporating consensus and conflict into the legitimacy of law

  • Mike Vuolo


Recent research on the legitimacy of law is dominated by the confirmed effect of procedural justice on views of legitimacy. The procedural justice research, however, neglects the substantive component of law and how that substance may conflict with value systems of the various subcultures that constitute a complex society. This paper reviews classic and contemporary theory, as well as supporting empirical criminological research, in order to argue that views of the legitimacy of a given law can also be affected by such conflicting value sets. Allotting subculture a central influence, a model is proposed that integrates a sociological conception of the legitimacy of law with the existing research from psychology on procedural justice.


Procedural Justice Legal Norm Legal Authority Complex Society Personal Morality 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. 1.
    Albrecht, S. L., & Green, M. (1977). Attitude toward the Police and the Larger Attitude Complex: Implications for Police-Community Relationships. Criminology, 15, 67–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Andenaes, J. (1966). The general preventive effects of punishment. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 114, 949–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Anderson, E. (1999). Code of the street. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Becker, H. S. (1963). Outsiders: studies in the sociology of deviance. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Beckett, K. (1997). Making crime pay: law and order in contemporary american politics. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Beetham, D. (1991). The legitimation of power. Atlantic Highlands: Humanities Press Internationl.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bottoms, A., & Tankebe, J. (2012). Beyond procedural justice: a dialogic approach to legitimacy in criminal justice. Journal of Criminal Law & Criminal Justice, 102, 119–170.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Brandl, S. G., Frank, J., Wooldredge, J., & Watkins, R. C. (1997). On the measurement of public support for the police: a research note. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management, 20, 473–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Catalano, S. M. (2006). Criminal victimization, 2005. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Chambliss, W., & Seidman, R. (1982). Law, order, and power (2nd ed.). Reading: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Cloward, R., & Ohlin, L. (1960) Delinquency and opportunity. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Coicaud, J. (2013). Crime, justice, and legitimacy: a brief theoretical inquiry. In J. Tankebe & A. Leibling (Eds.), Legitimacy and criminal justice: an international exploration (pp. 37–59). New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Cressey, D. R. (1951). Criminological research and the definition of crimes. American Journal of Sociology, 56, 546–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Dubber, M. D. (2001). Policing possession: the war on crime and the end of criminal law. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 91, 829–996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Dunn, J. (2013). Legitimacy and democracy in the world today. In J. Tankebe & A. Leibling (Eds.), Legitimacy and criminal justice: an international exploration (pp. 7–18). New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Elholm, T. (2014). Legitimacy and EU criminal law regulation. In N. Peršak (Ed.), Legitimacy and trust in criminal law, policy, and justice: norms, procedures, and outcomes (pp. 71–86). Burlington: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Ewick, P., & Silbey, S. S. (1998). The common place of law: stories from everyday life. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Fagan, J., & Davies, G. (2000). Street stops and broken windows: Terry, race, and disorder in New York City. Fordham Urban Law Journal, 28, 457–504.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Feeley, M. M. (1976). The concept of laws in social science: a critique and notes on an expanded view. Law and Society Review, 10, 497–523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Ferrell, J. (1996). Crimes of style: urban graffiti and the politics of criminality. Boston: Northeastern University Press.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Ferrell, J. (1999). Cultural criminology. Annual Review of Sociology, 25, 395–418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Garland, D. (1990). Punishment and modern society: a study in social theory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Garland, D. (2001). The culture of control: crime and social order in contemporary society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Gibbs, J. P. (1966). The sociology of law and normative phenomena. American Sociological Review, 31, 315–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Goldsmith, A. (2005). Police reform and the problem of trust. Theoretical Criminology, 9, 443–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Green, S. (1997). Why it’s a crime to tear the tag off a mattress: overcriminalization and the moral content of regulatory offenses. Emory Law Journal, 46, 1533–1616.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Gusfield, J. R. (1981). The culture of public problems: drinking-driving and the symbolic order. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Habermas, J. (1996). Between facts and norms: contributions to a discourse theory of law and democracy. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Hagan, J. (1991). Destiny and drift: subcultural preferences, status attainments, and the risks and rewards of youth. American Sociological Review, 56, 567–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Hagan, J. (1994). Crime and disrepute. Thousand Oaks: Pine Forge Press.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Hagan, J., & Albonetti, C. (1982). Race, class, and the perception of criminal justice in america. American Journal of Sociology, 88, 329–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Hagan, J., Hefler, G., Classen, G., Boehnke, K., & Merkens, H. (1998). Subterranean sources of subcultural delinquency beyond the american dream. Criminology, 36, 701–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Hagan, J., Merkens, H., & Boehnke, K. (1995). Delinquency and disdain: social capital and the control of right-wing extremism among east and West Berlin youth. American Journal of Sociology, 100, 1028–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Hagan, J., Silva, E. T., & Simpson, J. H. (1977). Conflict and consensus in the designation of deviance. Social Forces, 56, 320–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Hart, H. L. A. (1994). The concept of law (2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Hebdige, D. (1979). Subculture: the meaning of style. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Hirschi, T. (1969). Causes of delinquency. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Hodgson, J. (2013). Legitimacy and state responses to terrorism in the UK and France. In J. Tankebe & A. Leibling (Eds.), Legitimacy and criminal justice: an international exploration (pp. 178–205). New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Husak, D. N. (2004). Guns and drugs: case studies on the principled limits of the criminal sanction. Law and Philosophy, 23, 437–93.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Husak, D. N. (2004). Crimes outside the core. Tulsa Law Review, 39, 755–780.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Husak, D., & Duff, R. A. (2005). Malum Prohibitum and retributivism. In S. P. Green (Ed.), Defining crimes: essays on the special part of criminal law (pp. 65–90). New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Hyde, A. (1983). The concept of legitimation in the sociology of law. Wisconsin Law Review, 1983(2), 379–426.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Jefferson, A. M. (2013). The situated production of legitimacy: perspectives from the global south. In J. Tankebe & A. Leibling (Eds.), Legitimacy and criminal justice: an international exploration (pp. 248–66). New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Kadish, S. H. (1967). The crisis of over-criminalization. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 374, 157–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Kane, R. J. (2002). The social ecology of police misconduct. Criminology, 40, 867–896.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Kelman, H. C., & Hamilton, V. L. (1989). Crimes of obedience. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Kornhauser, R. (1978). Social sources of delinquency. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Lea, J., & Young, J. (1984). What is to be done about law and order? London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Liebow, E. (1967). Tally’s corner: a study of Negro streetcorner men. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Loader, I., & Walker, N. (2006). Necessary virtues: the legitimate place of the state in the production of security. In J. Wood & B. Dupont (Eds.), Democracy, society, and the governance of security (pp. 165–95). New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Lyng, S. (1990). Edgework: a social psychological analysis of voluntary risk taking. American Journal of Sociology, 95, 851–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Manning, P. K. (1999). Structure and control: “Deviance” in police organizations. Research in the Sociology of Work, 8, 117–38.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Matsueda, R. L. (1989). The dynamics of moral beliefs and minor deviance. Social Forces, 68, 428–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Matza, D. (1964). Delinquency and drift. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    McIntyre, J. (1967). Public attitudes toward crime and law enforcement. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 374, 34–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Moffitt, T. E. (1993). Adolescent-limited and life-course-persistent antisocial behavior: a developmental taxonomy. Psychological Review, 100, 674–701.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Newman, G. (1976). Comparative deviance: perception and law in six cultures. New York: Elsevier Scientific.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Nivette, A. (2013). Legitimacy and crime: theorizing the role of the state in cross-national criminological theory. Early View: Theoretical Criminology.Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    O’Malley, P. (1997). Policing, politics and postmodernity. Social and Legal Studies, 6, 363–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Packer, H. L. (1968). The limits of the criminal sanction. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Parsons, T. (1951). The social system. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Peršak, N. (2014). Norms, harms and disorder at the border: the legitimacy of criminal law intervention through the lens of criminalisation theory. In N. Peršak (Ed.), Legitimacy and trust in criminal law, policy, and justice: norms, procedures, and outcomes (pp. 13–34). Burlington: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    Reed, G. E., & Yeager, P. C. (1996). Organizational offending and neoclassical criminology: challenging the reach of a general theory of crime. Criminology, 34, 357–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. 64.
    Sampson, R. J., & Bartusch, D. (1998). Legal cynicism and (Subcultural?) Tolerance of deviance: the neighborhood context of neighborhood differences. Law and Society Review, 32, 777–804.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. 65.
    Sarat, A. (1993). Authority, anxiety, and procedural justice: moving from scientific detachment to critical engagement. Law and Society Review, 27, 647–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. 66.
    Savelsberg, J. J. (1992). Law that does not fit society: sentencing guidelines as a neoclassical reaction to the dilemmas of substantivized law. American Journal of Sociology, 97, 1346–1381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. 67.
    Savelsberg, J. J. (1994). Knowledge, domination, and criminal punishment. American Journal of Sociology, 99, 911–943.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. 68.
    Savelsberg, J. J. (2002). Dialectics of norms in modernization. Sociological Quarterly, 43, 277–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. 69.
    Savelsberg, J. J., & King, R. D. (2005). Institutionalizing collective memories of hate: law and law enforcement in Germany and the United States. American Journal of Sociology, 111, 579–616.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. 70.
    Sellin, T. (1938). Culture conflict and crime. New York: Social Science Research Council.Google Scholar
  71. 71.
    Silberman, M. (1976). Toward a theory of criminal deterrence. American Sociological Review, 41, 442–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. 72.
    Skogan, W., & Frydl, K. (Eds.). (2004). Fairness and effectiveness in policing: the evidence. Washington: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  73. 73.
    Skolnick, J. H., & Fyfe, J. J. (1993). Above the law: police and the excessive use of force. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  74. 74.
    Stryker, R. (1994). Rules, resources, and legitimacy processes: some implications for social conflict, order, and change. American Journal of Sociology, 99, 847–910.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. 75.
    Stuntz, W. J. (2001). The pathological politics of criminal law. Michigan Law Review, 100, 505–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. 76.
    Sunshine, J., & Tyler, T. R. (2003). The role of procedural justice and legitimacy in shaping public support for policing. Law and Society Review:, 37, 513–547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. 77.
    Sutherland, E. H. (1937). The professional thief. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  78. 78.
    Sutherland, E. H. (1945). Is “White collar crime” crime? American Sociological Review, 10, 132–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. 79.
    Sutherland, E. H., & Cressey, D. R. (1978). Criminology. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott.Google Scholar
  80. 80.
    Sutton, J. R. (2001). Law and society: origins, interactions, and change. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  81. 81.
    Sykes, G. M., & Matza, D. (1957). Techniques of neutralization: a theory of delinquency. American Sociological Review, 22, 664–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. 82.
    Tuch, S. A., & Weitzer, R. (1997). The polls: racial differences in attitudes toward the police. Public Opinion Quarterly, 61, 642–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. 83.
    Tyler, T. R. (2000). Multiculturalism and the willingness of citizens to defer to law and legal authorities. Law and Social Inquiry, 25, 983–1019.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. 84.
    Tyler, T. R. (2001). Public trust and confidence in legal authorities: what do majority and minority group members want from the law and legal institutions? Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 19, 215–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. 85.
    Tyler, T. R. (2006). Why people obey the law. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  86. 86.
    Tyler, T. R., & Darley, J. M. (2000). Building a law-abiding society: taking public views about morality and legitimacy of legal authorities into account when formulating substantive law. Hofstra Law Review, 28, 707–39.Google Scholar
  87. 87.
    Tyler, T. R., & Wakslak, C. J. (2004). Profiling and police legitimacy: procedural justice, attributions of motive, and acceptance of police authority. Criminology, 42, 253–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. 88.
    Weber, M. (1947). The theory of social and economic organization. Glencoe: Free Press.Google Scholar
  89. 89.
    Weber, M. (1968). Economy and society. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  90. 90.
    Wilson, J. Q. (1968). Varieties of police behavior: the management of law and order in eight communities. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  91. 91.
    Wright, R. T., & Decker, S. (1994). Burglars on the job: streetlife and residential break-ins. Boston: Northeastern University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

Personalised recommendations